"Oh dear, oh dear," I heard Korin mumble to herself as she walked passed me.
"Is something the matter, Korin?" I asked, causing her to jump in surprise at the sound of my voice.
"The king and his son are having a dispute outside," she explained. "The prince has heard of what shall become of the girls."
"The girls?" I replied. "What is it that has happened, and to whom?"
"Have you not heard?" Korin said. "The one who dared to break the law of King Creon was his own blood! Lady Antigone attempted to give her brother Polynices a proper burial."
"I assume the king did not take such an astonishing revelation quite well," I guessed. Before she could respond, I added, "What has become of Lady Antigone? And what of Lady Ismene?"
"The two have been sentenced to death," Korin said sadly.
"And King Creon was the one who came to this decision?" I asked.
"I am afraid so," Korin confirmed.
"Madness!" I exclaimed, and started for the double doors, which the king laid behind.
"What in God's name are you doing, Eupraxia?" Korin shouted after me.
"I plan on talking some sense into him!" I snapped back.
I burst through the doors to see—lo and behold—King Creon, standing in front of a crowd of his men, and viciously glaring at his son, Haemon. His eyes—and probably everyone else's as well—darted towards me in shock, wondering why on earth a woman had barged into a political affair.
"Eupraxia!" Creon snapped at me. "What business do you have here?"
"I have come to speak with you, my Lord," I said, bowing. "Are the words being whispered about the palace true? Lady Antigone and Lady Ismene; are they to die for giving their brother his death rights?"
"Death rights?" Creon echoed. "It is his right to forever lament by the river Styx. There is no hope of salvation for him in the afterlife."
"Ismene, you say?" a man in the crowd asked, squinting at me in confusion and then turning to face the king. "What has she to do with this? Have you sentenced her as well?"
"No, you are right," Creon said, ignoring me for the moment. "I will not kill the one whose hands are clean."
"But Antigone?" the man dared to ask.
I saw the anger flash by in his majesty's eyes once again; I knew his answer. Before he could utter whatever unspeakable plans he had in mind for dear Antigone, I spoke up. "Would you truly kill your own daughter?"
"She is no daughter of mine any longer," King Creon spat, turning to face me with a look of disgust evident on his face. Women are to keep their mouths shut; we have no say in men's business. I didn't give a damn. "She can join her dearest brother in the underworld, and I suggest you hold your tongue before I send you off with her."
Haemon briskly walked up the steps to face his father, and most likely to make sure his father didn't have me executed on the spot.
"But I am your son; will you not hear my plea?"
"I hear it, but I shall not fulfill it," his father replied. "The girl shall die."
"You say she is no longer your daughter," I continued, well aware that such an act could be considered treason; however, it bothered me not, "but is Queen Jocasta no longer your sister now that she has passed?"
"You dare speak to me like that?" Creon screamed at me, his face flushing with anger. No doubt having used his sister's name against him was the equivalent of signing my death warrant, but as I previously stated: I no longer feared Death.
"I knew her highness well; a fact which I am sure you are quite aware of. My mother had been her lady-in-waiting, and I her daughter's. My mother cared deeply—as do I—for your family; every member of it. I cannot see another of your kin die. They are as dear to me as they are to you."
"That girl is no longer my kin," the king said, and with a strong sense of foreboding added, "blood means nothing anymore."
"If that is so," I said slowly, trying to find the words I needed, "then why do you demand such a heavy toll of it? You can gather the blood of every man in Thebes—every man in Hellas!—but it won't bring back Jocasta, Eteocles, or Megareus."
Creon's eyes widened at this statement. Megareus was Creon's other son, who was said to have taken his own life when Polynices' Argive army invaded. From what I had heard whispered throughout the halls, it seemed that Creon had sought out the old seer, Tiresias, who had predicted that a voluntary death from a Theban would bring us victory.
"Vengeance, making others suffer like your sister and son did… it won't bring them back, dear king.
"And if there's one thing I am sure of, it is that Queen Jocasta loved her children—all of them—no matter what cruel or... idiotic things they may have done. Can she not see you now from the afterlife? Is she not watching? Would she not long for her children to live long and happy lives? Just like you wanted… just like you want… with your children?"
"I am a fool," Creon said, face in his hand. "I am a damned fool." Haemon put his hand on his father's shoulder, looking extremely grateful and relieved, and nodded to me in thanks. "She shall live," the king said, "like her mother would have wanted."